Transport in Nairobi

Getting around Nairobi by local transport is not a hustle, because the public transport system efficiently covers all destinations within and in the outskirts of Nairobi. About a square kilometer of Nairobi is reserved for carious commercial activities, and it is easy to navigate this area on foot.

Residential areas stretch as far as 25 kilometers from the city center, with some suburbs extending over to further counties such as: Kiambu, Mavoko, and Kajiado to the south.

Majority of the available modes of transport within Nairobi are owned by the private sector, and they include: Matatus, buses, Tuk-tuks, taxis, and bodabodas (motorbikes). Train services are owned by the Government.

Ways to Get Around Nairobi by Local Transport

  • Matatus in Nairobi

Matatus make up the predominant means of transport within Nairobi, especially since they ply through routes that cover the greater Nairobian Suburban straddle. The shared mini-buses can carry a maximum of 14 passengers, and they are easily noticeable from their standard yellow stripe that is usually painted on the back and side of the Matatu. Most Matatus city terminals are found around Odeon Cinema, and along Tom Mboya Street.

However, due to the behemoth amount of matatus and the insufficient parking facilities provided by the Nairobi City council, informal Matatu terminals can be spotted on various streets within Nairobi including Ronald Ngara, Railways, Commercial, and Nyamakima. Fares vary depending on the destination, but the range between 50-200ksh.

  • Buses in Nairobi

Buses too are a fairly common means of transport within Nairobi. Like the matatus, most bus routes tend to converge within the city center with numerous terminals within the city center. The most notorious Bus Service Providers are KBS, City Hoppa, and Double M, which plies through central Nairobi and drops off and picks up passengers at KENCOM opposite the Hilton hotel, and about Ambassador Hotel, opposite The National Archives on Ronald Ngara Street. The fares average about the same as those of the matatus.

  • Train in Nairobi

In the 1980s the Commuter Train service was introduced within Nairobi, to combat the problem of spiraling fares of the buses and matatus for the lower-class working in the Nairobi. Train serves as the most cost-effective means of transport within the city. Trains only operate on weekdays, and can get quite congested especially during rush hours.

  • Boda Bodas in Nairobi

A new addition to the public transport is the motorbikes, locally reffered to as ‘boda bodas. They are typically found at road junctions within the outskirts of Nairobi, you will rarely get them operating within the city center.

Their fares are a tad higher than those of matatus or buses, and so people tend to use them to get to destinations that are not covered by the buses or matatus. Their ability to maneuver through traffic jams makes them a suitable option, when there are traffic jams and you are in a big hurry to get somewhere.

  • Tuk -Tuks in Nairobi

Another interesting ways to get around Nairobi by local transport are tuk tuks. These three-wheeled vehicles look like a taxi-boda boda hybrid. They are primarily found in coastal towns, but a few operate within the city center providing a cheaper alternative to the boda bodas and taxis for short trips within Nairobi.

  • Taxis in Nairobi

Taxis serve as a great alternative to other modes of transport in Nairobi, especially when traveling at night. They are safer than the public means of local transport in Nairobi, but more expensive. The fares are negotiable but can range from 300 to 1000 KSH for trips within central Nairobi.

Safety in Nairobi

The unfortunate thing about most modes of transport within Nairobi (especially the matatus, buses, and boda bodas) is that they tend to be unruly and unreliable. This has contributed to the prevalence of preventable road accidents within Nairobi.

Plus in case of unprecedented traffic check, the traffic offenders will the drop off their passengers right in the middle of nowhere and make a quick U-turn. This is also the case when there is heavy traffic jam. The buses/Matatus operators also tend to increase the fares when it rains or during rush hours, so commuters are often unsure of what they will be charged, as such it’s important to ask what the fare charges are before boarding them.

Traffic in Nairobi

Kenya’s capital is no stranger to traffic jams and congestion, especially in the rush hours (mornings and evenings). The city center is congested with business, commercial facilities, and residential properties. This has led to encroachment of most roads and streets, causing the numerous traffic jams.

Some of the roads which experience the worst traffic jams during rush hours include: Jogoo, Ngong, Mombasa, and Langata roads. It’s best to avoid these roads during peak hours.